Archive for May 23rd, 2011

A look ahead to Thunder-Mavs Game 4

By Scott Spangler

It’s funny how perception tends to change drastically after each contest of a seven-game series. Thursday Oklahoma City took Game 2 in Dallas and the series took a turn as the Thunder seized homecourt advantage.

Then in Game 3, it was the Mavericks winning one on the Road at the Ford Center, reclaiming homecourt. So naturally, the talk today in Dallas centered on putting the WCF to bed in five games.

And should OKC respond with a win this evening, we have a best-of-three and all the pressure is on the Mavs again. That’s the nature of playoff basketball. Not quite as dramatic as hockey, but you get the idea.

As for the adjustments coaches are required to make during the course of these series, those, too, can vary greatly from game to game. Despite slow starts in each of the first three games against Dallas, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks has vowed not to alter his starting lineup

That means keeping Kendrick Perkins on the floor, which has been an issue in matching up against Maverick center Tyson Chandler. Perkins is still not at 100 percent (knee) and running with Chandler has been a problem.

To this point against the Mavericks, OKC is minus-32 with Perkins on the floor and plus-23 with him on the bench. He has not been much of a defensive presence vs. Dallas, and his lack of offensive game doesn’t help on the other end.

Saturday night, Dallas was running an extra defender at OKC wing scorers, allowing screeners to go free most of the night. The Mavericks obviously do not respect the ability of Perkins to make them pay for doubling the ball.

There is the notion Oklahoma City should go with a smaller lineup, but Brooks has been reluctant to do so in the past, usually as a last resort. It might come down to that tonight.

Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah has been fined $50,000 for using a derogatory and offensive term from the bench during the first quarter of the Bulls’ 96-85 loss to the Miami Heat last night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Recently, Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for saying almost the same thing, though in Bryant’s case it was directed at an NBA referee, while Noah was engaged in heated discussion with a fan sitting near Chicago’s bench.

Fan reaction and discussion of the entire issue is in this forum topic.

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The Atlanta Spirit ownership group is on the verge of selling the Thrashers, but it will be holding on to the Hawks at least for a while.

The Spirit and outgoing San Diego Padres owner John Moores agreed Friday to terminate Moores’ exclusive negotiating period on a possible purchase of the Hawks, Spirit partner Michael Gearon Jr. confirmed.

“We no longer have an exclusivity,” Gearon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was ended by mutual agreement after preliminary discussions.”

It is not clear how long Moores’ exclusive period had been in effect. The parties agreed to end the arrangement after the period produced little momentum toward a deal. Ending the exclusivity doesn’t preclude the possibility of subsequent negotiations with Moores about the Hawks, but it reopens the process to other potential bidders.

Trail Blazers part ways with GM Rich Cho

The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that they have parted ways with Rich Cho, the team’s general manager of basketball operations.

“The fit between Rich and our team simply wasn’t right,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. “This was a tough move because I respect Rich and he’s a good person with many strong skills. But it simply wasn’t a good match.”

Trail Blazers Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan will serve as acting general manager. Buchanan has been with the team for four years. Buchanan and Head Coach Nate McMillan will report to Miller until a permanent replacement is hired.

Trail Blazers Owner Paul G. Allen said the move is part of the franchise’s commitment to building a championship contending team. “This decision, as difficult as it was to make, reflects our willingness to admit and recognize that things haven’t worked out,” Allen said. “We’re going to be tough on ourselves in assessing what we could have done better, and then go out and find the executive who is the best fit with the needs of our franchise. That chemistry and connection is critically important.”

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

The Miami Heat lead the Chicago Bulls 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Finals series. And as Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago reports:

Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik is day to day with a muscle strain in his left leg. He suffered the injury in the third quarter of Game 3 Sunday night and did not return. “We’re hopeful,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after his team’s Monday afternoon film session. “I talked to [athletic trainer] Fred [Tedsechi] earlier and he said he’s day to day. He’ll get treatment [Tuesday]. Fred will take him onto the court to see if he’s having any problems and hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”

Asik is averaging 14.3 minutes per game for the Bulls in the Conference Finals. He mostly acts as a big body, taking up space, defending and boxing out.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced new multiyear agreements with Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), extending the league’s longstanding relationship with each company to continue to develop, publish, and distribute NBA video games.

The new agreements will provide fans with a diverse offering of NBA video games, including 5-on-5 simulation and arcade style games that will be available on video game consoles, online, and through mobile devices.

“We have had successful and longstanding relationships with both 2K Sports and EA SPORTS,” said Sal LaRocca, Executive Vice President of NBA Global Merchandising.  “Extending our agreements with the top sports video game developers continues to maximize our presence in this category, while ensuring our fans the best selection of NBA video games.”

Take-Two and EA will each have the rights to use NBA teams and players in their NBA video game titles.  Throughout the agreements, the league will work closely with Take-Two and EA to promote the basketball video games through global marketing, promotional programs, and multiple assets including NBA TV, NBA.com, and grassroots events.

Take-Two, an NBA licensee since 1999 and with the new agreement, an official marketing partner of the NBA, will continue to publish the NBA 2K franchise through its 2K Sports publishing label.  NBA 2K, a 5-on-5 simulation which originally debuted in 1999, will be released on a yearly basis on all leading video game platforms.

This year, NBA 2K 11 which features Michael Jordan on the cover, has sold more than five million units to date, a record for the NBA 2K franchise.

“We’re pleased to extend our successful relationship with the NBA, that will allow 2K Sports to continue to innovate the basketball video game category with our critically acclaimed NBA 2K franchise,” said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports.  “Our partnership ensures that we can continue to marry innovative gameplay with the authenticity of the NBA that today’s sports fans demand.”

Along with the acclaimed NBA 2K franchise, 2K Sports will have the opportunity to explore and develop new NBA licensed gaming opportunities, including online on social media platforms.

EA, an NBA licensee since 1991, will debut a new 5-on-5 NBA simulation title in fall 2012.  The game is being developed at EA Tiburon in Orlando.  EA SPORTS originally unveiled their simulation game, NBA LIVE in 1995.

Along with a new simulation game, EA will continue to publish their arcade-style video game franchise EA SPORTS NBA JAM.  The latest edition, NBA JAM: On Fire Edition is being developed for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, and it will be available on PlayStation® Network and Xbox LIVE® Arcade this fall.   EA SPORTS revived NBA JAM, the popular arcade game from the early 1990’s, in October 2010.

“We’re pleased to continue our longstanding partnership with the NBA,” said Jordan Edelstein, Vice President of Marketing, EA SPORTS.  “With our all-new digital download of NBA JAM coming this fall and a new simulation title in development for release next year, we have a strong lineup of innovative NBA titles coming soon from EA SPORTS.”

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Joel Anthony makes Game 3 a block party

Miami Heat center Joel Anthony has emerged over time from a player lucky to be on a roster to a nice defender clearly worthy of at least coming off the bench and being in a squad’s rotation. And he was a defensive force early in Sunday’s Game 3, which the Heat won as they took a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Bulls.

David J. Neal of the Miami Herald reports:

joel anthony

Joel Anthony’s four first-quarter blocks accounted for 36.6 percent of Chicago’s 11 first-quarter misses, helped keep Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer scoreless and the Bulls with a meager 15 points on 25 percent shooting while the Heat overcame their own offensive troubles. And even as Boozer got going in the second quarter with nine points, the Bulls began changing angles mid-shot, in anticipation of Anthony.

All of Anthony’s five blocked shots came in the first half, during which the Bulls shot 16 of 40 and shot only nine free throws. That’s five blocks in one half after 20 in the Heat’s first 12 playoff games.

There’s no official category for Shots Turned Bricks Off Of Intimidation, of which Anthony had several in his 29:03 of playing time, all of which were in the first three quarters.

Anthony is a limited player, but he’s still been the best of Miami’s crop of centers.

The AP reports:

chris bosh

Chris Bosh made 13 of his final 15 shots on the way to a 34-point night, LeBron James finished with 22 points and 10 assists, and the Heat remained unbeaten at home in the postseason by beating the Chicago Bulls 96-85 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday…

Dwyane Wade added 17 points and nine rebounds for Miami, which is 7-0 at home in the playoffs and handed the team that finished with the NBA’s best record its first losing streak since Feb. 5-7. Udonis Haslem sealed it with a jumper with 1:29 left, putting Miami up 93-84.

Game 4 is Tuesday in Miami.

Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds for Chicago, which had won the first four meetings of the season with Miami. Derrick Rose finished with 20 points, but struggled from the field again, making only 8 of his 19 shots.

The Bulls held James and Wade to a combined 12-of-30 showing from the floor. Against Bosh, they had no answer…

Boozer made a pair of free throws with 6:39 left to get Chicago within 78-74, the outcome clearly hanging in the balance. Minutes later, that was no longer the case—not after Miami scored nine straight to build more than enough of a cushion…

Rose finished the first half with no assists, just the 11th time in his career that’s happened. He did have 11 points by intermission, when Miami led 43-40—meaning it held Chicago to 69 points in a 48-minute span dating to the midpoint of Game 2.

Live fan discussion of the game took place in this forum topic.

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